Sangria – a Spanish Refreshing Drink

Sangria-DrinkThere are few things more famously Spanish than Sangria. It is the archetypal Spanish summer beverage, the delicious thirst quenching chilled red wine and fresh fruit punch specifically designed to combat the hot Mediterranean summers. With the quality and quantity of good red wines produced in Spain, sangria was a logical creation.

Sangria is an icon of the Spanish ‘fiesta’ and imitated the world over. Tourists in Spain flock to the bars to sample Sangria done the traditional way. Unfortunately, the search for “traditional” sangria is likely to be in vain. Sangria is Spain’s best kept secret. Recipes are passed down from generation to generation and protected like the crown jewels! Bodegas and pubs each claim to have the best sangria in town, and each region claims to have the best sangria in Spain. However, it is hard to go wrong with sangria… I suggest you give them all a try and decide for yourself!

The colours of the strong Spanish red wines traditionally used to make the punch are believed to provide the derivation for the name of sangria. The Spanish word for blood is ‘sangre’, and the rich hue of the riojas typically included as the main ingredient for this exotic mixture are supposed to resemble the colour of blood. All the basic ingredients for sangria have been grown in abundance and been household staples in Spain for thousands of years. From its humble roots in Spain, Sangria has grown to become a popular, refreshing party drink around the world.

Sangria is one of the most individualistic drinks on the market. Every Spaniard and restaurant across Spain has its own homemade sangria recipe with each district offering a local specialty. However, everyone builds on the base mix of red wine, brandy and fresh fruits, served over ice.

Sangria’s appeal is all about taking your favourite red wine, your favourite fruits, and experimenting with them. Use a good quality red wine (a good rioja will give you the authentic Spanish flavour) and combine it with fresh fruit and let it chill overnight and the fruit will sweeten and blend with the wine and liquor. In the morning, pour into a pitcher full of ice cubes and carbonation (if so desired) and enjoy.

The ingredients in sangria vary, particularly in the type of fruit used, the kind of spirits added (if any), and the presence or lack of carbonation. Because of the variation in recipes, sangria’s strength can vary greatly. The yummy sweetness of the cool fruit drink mask the liquor flavour and can actually pack quite a wallop and knock you right off your feet after one or two!

The most popular deviation to the standard red wine punch is ‘sangria blanco’, which is made with white wine instead of red, and in the southern provinces of Spain peaches, or nectarines are included and it is called zurra. Northern regions are now joining in on the sangria frenzy. The Cava-producing areas are adopting a sparkling white version.

A sharper and even more refreshing alternative to sangria is provided by the very popular drink vino de verano, or summer wine, which is also referred to as tinto de verano in some regions. This simple and instantly refreshing drink is the combination of red wine on ice mixed with a choice of sodas, either blanco, lemon or naranja and is served in all bars and restaurants throughout southern Spain.

Accompany your sangria with a few tasty tapas and a group of good friends and you are set for hours of fun in the sun!

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